When The Music Stops [Editorial]

May 10 2011

From the outside looking in, it can be difficult to really understand the work and sacrifice that is needed in order to continue a successful music career. The glamorization of hip hop music has numbed the general public to the idea that being a rapper is actually a job. Not every MC is blessed with #1 hit singles and major label support. Those that travel the road of independent music are often forced to give up luxuries in order to keep going. In other cases, the very streets that make an MC who he is can call back, and reserve doubt in their legitimate career. Big Scoob would have you believe that he is included in the latter. A veteran of the KC rap scene, Scoob has seen his share of highs and lows in both the music industry and his personal life. Following nearly a decade away from music, Scoob returned in 2009 with his Strange Music debut, Monsterifik. The album fell short of expectations and didn’t create the connection with fans that Scoob had hoped for. Determined to redeem himself, Scoob went on to become a regular on guest spots for the next two years. Making sure that fans became familiar with him, Scoob worked hard to stay relevant. Even so, on the eve of the release of Damn Fool, Scoob was adamant about his doubts. In a revealing interview, Scoob spoke candidly about his fears within the music industry. More concerned with taking care of his family than gold records, Scoob’s plight is something that sounds more like the life of a working class man, and less like a rap star. The reality is, Scoob is just that. Big Scoob is just like any other man with a family to feed and thoughts of being financially comfortable. With a past rooted in street hustling though, it is obvious Scoob feels the pressure to go back. Torn between the risks of the music business and the convenience of the streets, can anyone really blame Scoob?

The contradiction in who Big Scoob is rises from his relationship with Strange Music. As the top independent hip hop label today, Strange Music carries the responsibility of building up its roster. It’s not enough that these MCs be talented, they must also seem larger than life. This superstar lifestyle and personality is not something Scoob so readily takes on. Scoob’s hesitation to worry about stardom is what hinders some of his opportunities. In a surprising revelation, Scoob admitted to not being particularly fond of touring or performing on stage. Tech N9ne’s reputation as a touring juggernaut is known around the industry. It is Tech N9ne’s lucrative touring schedule that has kept the label growing for so many years. Stuck with little choice on the matter, Scoob has apparently been backed up against a wall: either hit the road and try to make the money, or sit at home and wonder where the next dollar is going to come from. Every time Scoob accepts or rejects the opportunity to tour, he is gambling with his career.

Scoob’s anxiety over his record sales and cash flow stems from his rocky relationship with Strange Music fans. With no real background on who he was, fans were first introduced to Scoob through numerous features on Strange Music releases. Later, Tech N9ne would bring him on to Strange Music and release his album, Monsterifik. Backed by a huge single, “Salue”, Monsterifik was thought to be Scoob’s big break. The trouble was, that most fans simply did not know who Scoob was. Not only did fans not understand the music he made, but they also had trouble understanding just who Big Scoob was supposed to be. Scoob still hung on and managed to create a following for himself through all of his collaborations. Scoob’s constant appearances made him a regular, and fans began to see another side of him. Fast forward to 2011, and while the fans may love Scoob’s insane antics, he still feels they don’t really know him. Citing something as simple as the way he speaks, Scoob begins to build the picture of an artist who can’t relate to his fans the way he wants to. Strange Music fans are accustomed to the darker style of hip hop that Tech and Krizz Kaliko gravitate towards. Scoob on the other hand, doesn’t feel like that would be an honest move on his part. Feeling guilt over exploiting the fans, Scoob would rather make real music, and let the fans decide whether or not they like it. This is where Scoob is really looking to thrive. Instead of worrying about reaching platinum status and having top ten singles, Scoob would rather concentrate on the following he has. Scoob is no stranger to the adapting business models that other artists are using. Free music is becoming a staple in hip hop. Artists are now encouraged to constantly release free music in an effort to remain relevant, and motivate potential new fans to purchase existing music. The problem is, Strange Music is expanding at a rapid pace. With a steady stream of profit, and a now famous business plan, there is no room for consistent free product. It can become detrimental to a growing record label. Scoob’s refusal to expand with the label could position him to lose a lot of opportunities. Therefore, while he may be motivated to make money from music on his own, Scoob’s mini business plan is stuck on the backburner for the time being.

The stress from the music business can take its toll on just about anyone. When records don’t sell, the label doesn’t make money. If the label is not receiving its return from your sales, then suddenly you are in debt to the label. Scoob knew he couldn’t risk anything in the release of Damn Fool. The amount of work that went into the album was obvious from the beginning. Scoob absolutely had to deliver a stronger product than Monsterifik, and still keep his morals in check. The so called “tug of war” between his hood values and the needs of the music industry can be heard on “Take Me Away”. Possibly the most stunning track from Scoob, it lays out his struggle in the most sincere way. Money is money no matter how you make it. Money does not worry about where it came from, and it does not discriminate against anyone. Without money there is no security, and no guarantee that your family will be taken care of. In listening to Scoob, it becomes painfully obvious that being the next big thing is a distant second to feeling secure. Reflecting on his days in the streets, Scoob knows how easily that money can come. It comes with possible consequences, but it comes nonetheless. The music industry has left him stressed, and at times panicked about his situation. What’s the use in being someone’s favorite rapper if you have to continuously worry about your income? Scoob knows he’s not young anymore. The responsibilities of being a father, amongst other things, is enough to keep him pushing for more.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Big Scoob would probably beg to differ. Damn Fool has now been available for just over a week, and sales seem have already shown a growth since Monsterifik. The newfound success behind his music can prove to be a major avenue for Scoob, if put to the right use. He has an opportunity to push within the industry, and set himself up for any sort of success he wishes to accomplish. Strange Music has every available resource to aid in an artists’ campaign. Still, Scoob knows that if he so chooses, he can always fall back on the streets to feed him. No one said it would be an easy decision, but only Scoob can decide what will happen when the music stops.

-Victor Sandoval, Assistant Editor Strange Music

Follow Victor on Twitter: @VicMSandoval

Click here to purchase Big Scoob’s Damn Fool.